Feed me, see more: Podcasts and RSS funkiness.

Lucy has given her desktop a spring clean and it’s given her a renewed dedication to getting more out of the so-called web 2.0 revolution.

Firefox is a great aggregator for Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. Subscribing to a blog you want to be instantly informed about, once a new entry has been posted, is as quick and easy as clicking the clicky thing and showing your bookmarks in the side-bar, for quick-glance reference.

But what about finding great RSS enabled content in the first place? Here’s some of my top feeds and how I open the media inside of them in various clients.

For software I’ll, naturally, be using Mac applications in these examples, but there are a whole bunch of (not as good as but) perfectly functional alternatives for both Linux and Windows, which you can find by searching for terms like ‘RSS’ and ‘Feed reader’ on one of these handy software download sites

www.versiontracker.com is occasionally quite slow to open and frustrating to sort titles into different categories, like ‘Freeware’ or ‘Shareware’ – but if you soldier on with it, it is usually the best place to find well rated programs that get the job done with little fuss.

Download.com from CNet has a distinct Microsoft Windows bias in the titles it features, but aside from that you can be sure that the software you try from their recommended listings is going to be virus free and won’t contain any adware or other nastiness which blights so many other Windows orientated download repositories.

Software:
NetNewsWire is my RSS reader of choice. As well as being able to bring together lots of feeds in one neat little window, there’s the ability to add a post to your own blog with one click or post an article to your del.icio.us feed, so others who are subscribed to your RSS can read what you are into today.

Then there’s Mail.app (Apple’s built-in e-mail client). Mail, as of the version which bundles with OS X 10.5 Leopard, has a rudimentary but functional RSS reader, which can – rather handily – send RSS feeds directly to your in-box, so you can read your feeds of choice right alongside your regular e-mail.

While Mail.app and NetNewsWire are great for text based RSS feed aggregation, when it comes to audio and video (podcasts and vlogs), you have to go a long way to beat iTunes.

Never one to shy away from blowing Apple’s trumpet for them, whenever the opportunity arrises, you’ll have to trust me that, even if you think I’m just being a typical Mac nerd, iTunes really is your best bet for ease of use, a myriad of content, reliability and – of course – easy syncing to portable media devices like the iPhone and iPod.

For finding actual content iTunes also has a great dedicated Podcasting section on the music store, where a billion zillion free to download shows are waiting for you to dive in. You can instantly play-back a short section of a show by double clicking the episode title name, or click the ‘Subscribe’ button to add that show’s RSS feed to the ‘Podcasts’ section in the side-bar.

A top tip for using iTunes as your main video and audio RSS aggregator, if you’re on a slow connection, is to un-check the box marked ‘Allow simultaneous downloads’ at the bottom of the ‘Downloads’ window.

This pops up in the side-bar, under the ‘iTunes Store’ tab when you first launch the program, if there are new episodes of your subscribed feeds available and waiting to be downloaded, so you don’t clog up your available bandwidth downloading 5 or 6 new podcast at once – and iTunes will automatically queue downloads up behind each other so you can sit back and wait for each program to complete, without having to baby-sit the task.

Feeds to read:
It’s all well and good having a myriad of choices on how to read your feeds, but how about finding good content to start with? Here’s a list of RSS feeds for various information, entertainment and general funkiness which I regularly read and use.

I’ll admit to a seriously biased liking (particularly for Podcasts) in shows created by and about self-confessed Apple Mac related topics, but there’s hopefully enough of a mix of off-beat and alternative culture in there too, to stop me getting beaten up by the school bully for being such a fucking nerd.

  • Epic FuWebsiteRSS FeedSubscribe in iTunes
    With a tag line of “art, tech and music for geeks” this recently re-launched, fast paced magazine style show is an entertaining watch, which you’ll find yourself eagerly awaiting new episodes to be released week by week.
  • Geek Brief TVWebsiteRSS FeedSubscribe in iTunes
    The always bubbly Cali Lewis hosts this (near) daily video podcast, which like the name suggests, keeps the tech savvy up to date with the latest gadgets and software of want.
  • Hubblecast HDWebsiteRSS FeedSubscribe in iTunes
    If bandwidth is no issue (or you can leave your slow connected computer to batch-run over night) High Definition content is everywhere in the land of Podcasts. This beautiful looking magazine program takes us aboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and reveals the amazing views of the universe it captures in all their high resolution glory.
  • Collings and HerrinWebsiteRSSiTunes
    Collings and Herrin are a well liked partnership of radio and TV humorists from the UK. I can’t say I’ve listed intently to this, their ad hoc low budget (just as podcasts should be) show – but if it’s anything like their usual output, this is definitely one to look forward to.
  • Buzz Out LoudWebsiteRSSiTunes
    CNET’s “podcast of indeterminate length,” featuring Tom and Molly’s entertaining, sometimes caustic, and always skeptical take on technology news.

Who makes this stuff?
The real beauty of podcasting, to my mind, is that anyone with a microphone and a little know-how can set-up a show which can, potentially, reach as many listeners and viewers as a big-budget operation from a traditional broadcaster.

Geek Brief TV is a good example of a small spare-bedroom hobby produced show which became such a big deal, thanks to Podshow (now renamed Mevio), a company formed by the ubiquitous gobshite himself, Adam Curry, that the show’s producer’s, engineers, writers, performers, recordists and camera operators, all jobs performed by just two people, Cali and her husband Neil, were able to quit their day jobs and become full-time podcasters.

Businesses like Podshow are growing up around podcasting and new media everywhere in ‘the valley’ and some are worth paying more attention to than others. Here’s a quick list of content producers who make a whole slew of shows you might want to check out via their iTunes listings, linked to and briefly described below…

Mevio, formerly known as Podshow, are the umbrella company behind some of Podcasting biggest names, like The Dawn and Drew Show and the pre-formatted for your iPod friendly Best of YouTube.

Revision3 is best known for it’s founder Kevin Rose and his wildly popular Diggnation video podcast, co-hosted by Alex Albrecht – but the company also hosts the hugely informative Photoshop and Illustrator tutorial show Pixel Perfect with Burt Monroy and The Totally Rad Show.

Wizzard Media produce the Midwest Teen Sex Show, Tiki Bar TV and the Hot For Words language course.

TWiT TV is the brainchild of Leo Laporte and responsible for some of the most popular technology news shows around, including the always entertaining flagship show This Week in Tech, Windows Weekly and Security Now.

ON Networks make the Food Science show with Dr. Kiki Sandford, Beautiful Places in High Definition and Try this at home.

I hope that’s enough to be going on with for now. I’ve added a new links section to my sidebar, featuring some of the podcasts I regularly listen to and watch. Keep your eyes pealed for me adding more to that over the coming days and weeks.

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